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Frass sampling and baiting indicate European earwig (Forficula auricularia) foraging in orchards

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Earwigs are significant generalist predators of a range of orchard pests, but quantitative assessment of earwig density and beneficial impact is difficult. A sampling system was designed and tested, based on field placement of polycarbonate tubes in apple trees as scotophase arboreal refugia. Tubes containing artificial diet and provided with a black plastic sleeve had the highest earwig counts. Tubes with diet or the black sleeve alone were less preferred. Presence of distinctive frass was also evident in polycarbonate tubes containing artificial diet, and earwig frass was recorded at a higher frequency than earwig presence, indicating foraging and detection of the tubes at a higher rate than their use as shelters. At the tree level, there was a weak correlation between frass abundance and predation rates on leafroller egg batches placed as baits in the canopy, but not with earwig density measured by corrugated cardboard rolls or diet tubes. Diet tubes have the potential to offer new insights into earwig foraging behaviour in orchards.
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Keywords: earwig; foraging; predator; shelter; understory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2006

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